Search Images Maps Play YouTube News Gmail Drive More »
Sign in
Screen reader users: click this link for accessible mode. Accessible mode has the same essential features but works better with your reader.

Patents

  1. Advanced Patent Search
Publication numberUS8484088 B1
Publication typeGrant
Application numberUS 10/960,408
Publication date9 Jul 2013
Filing date6 Oct 2004
Priority date6 Oct 2004
Fee statusPaid
Publication number10960408, 960408, US 8484088 B1, US 8484088B1, US-B1-8484088, US8484088 B1, US8484088B1
InventorsMark Orttung, Jerome Chen, Anson Mah, Martin Herrmann
Original AssigneeRearden Commerce Inc.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Customer satisfaction in booking process
US 8484088 B1
Abstract
A system and system to improving customer satisfaction in booking process. In one embodiment a system and method are described to determine the cause of the issue in procuring the service is and, based on a set of rules, offer the user a path to complete the procurement successfully. In one embodiment, a system and method are described to determine when a supplier is not available and queue requests until the supplier system is available again. In one embodiment, a system and method are described to actively manage the status of each account so that the user's transactions do not fail because of mis-configured or expired account configuration status.
Images(16)
Previous page
Next page
Claims(25)
What is claimed is:
1. A computer implemented method comprising:
receiving, via a computing device, notification of an event, the event to include a group of participants, including at least one participant who acts as a group leader for the event;
notifying, via the computing device, the group of participants of the event;
processing, via the computing device, at least one request of the group leader to procure at least one service related to the provision of a resource used for attending the event;
automatically notifying, via an Internet access, the other participants of the at least one service procured for the group leader for the resource used for attending the event;
automatically offering to other participants of the event, via the Internet access, an option to procure the at least one service procured for the group leader in order to share the resource needed for attending the event with the group leader;
processing, via the computing device, at least one request from at least one other participant for the procurement of the at least one service procured for the group leader by completing a transaction for the procurement of the at least one service for the at least one other participant to share with the group leader the resource needed for attending the event;
detecting a circumstantial delay in completion of the transaction;
delaying provision to the at least one other participant of a final confirmation regarding the completion of the transaction;
notifying the at least one other participant regarding a projected duration of the delay, the projected duration constituting a time period between detection of the delay and a projected completion of the transaction;
maintaining, in a virtual waiting queue, the transaction as active, pending completion of the transaction;
determining a future time when the transaction can be completed;
waiting for arrival of the future time; and
completing the transaction after arrival of the future time.
2. The method of claim 1 wherein notifying includes sending the at least one other participant an invitation for the event, for which the at least one other participant may do one of accept and decline.
3. The method of claim 2 wherein in response to a first participant declining the invitation, discontinuing notifications and offerings related to the event to the first participant, the method further comprising providing to the at least one other participant an option regarding processing of the transaction, wherein the option includes allowing the at least one other participant at a later time to be notified about a completion of the transaction.
4. The method of claim 1 wherein the event comprises at least one attribute selected from a group comprising: date, time, duration, and location.
5. The method of claim 1 wherein the at least one service comprises at least one attribute selected from a group comprising: an airline ticket, a train ticket, a hotel reservation, a car rental, an airport shuttle and an admission ticket.
6. The method of claim 1 wherein the group leader of the event defines the group of participants.
7. The method of claim 1 wherein processing at least one participant request includes processing a request for a second participant that is dissimilar from a request for a third participant, the method further comprising contacting, via the Internet access, a call center; and receiving missing data provided by the call center to complete the transaction.
8. The method of claim 1 wherein processing of the at least one request of the group leader includes procuring requested services according to the requirements of a preexisting mutual service requirement of the group, and an alteration in a reservation made by at least one further participant in the group.
9. The method of claim 1 further including altering the at least one service procured for the group leader in response to an alteration in the at least one procured service made by at least one further participant in the group.
10. A system comprising:
a processing unit configured to receive notification of an event, the event to include a group of participants, including at least one participant who acts as a group leader for the event;
a network connection unit configured to notify the group of participants of the event;
wherein the processing unit is configured to process a request from the group leader for the procurement of at least one service related to the provision of a resource used for attending the event;
wherein the processing unit is configured to notify the other participants of the at least one service procured for the group leader for the resource used for attending the event;
wherein the processing unit is configured to offer to the other participants of the event an option to procure the at least one service procured for the group leader in order to share the resource needed for attending the event with the group leader;
wherein the processing unit is configured to process at least one request from at least one other participant for the procurement of the at least one service procured for the group leader by completing a transaction for the procurement of the at least one service for the at least one other participant to share with the group leader the resource needed for attending the event,
wherein the processing unit is configured to detect a circumstantial delay in completion of the transaction;
wherein the processing unit is configured to delay provision to at least one other participant of a final confirmation regarding the completion of the transaction;
wherein the network connection unit is configured to notify the at least one other participant regarding a projected duration of the delay, the projected duration constituting a time period between detection of the delay and a projected completion of the transaction;
wherein the processing unit is configured to maintain, in a virtual waiting queue, the transaction as active, pending completion of the transaction;
wherein the processing unit is configured to determine a future time when the transaction can be completed;
wherein the processing unit is configured to wait for arrival of the future time; and
wherein the processing unit is configured to complete the transaction after arrival of the future time.
11. The system of claim 10 wherein the processing unit configured to send at least one of the participants an invitation for the event, for which the at least one participant may do one of accept and decline.
12. The system of claim 11 wherein in response to a first participant declining the invitation, the processing unit discontinue notifications and offerings related to the event to the first participant, the system further comprising the processing unit being configured to provide to at least one other participant an option regarding processing of the transaction, wherein the option includes allowing at least one other participant at a later time to be notified about a completion the transaction.
13. The system of claim 10 wherein the event comprises at least one attribute selected from a group comprising: date, time, duration, and location.
14. The system of claim 10 wherein at least one service comprises at least one attribute selected from a group comprising: an airline ticket, a train ticket, a hotel reservation, a car rental, an airport shuttle and an admission ticket.
15. The system of claim 10 wherein the group leader defines the group of participants.
16. The system of claim 10 wherein the processing unit is configured to process at least one request for a second participant that is dissimilar from at least one request for a third participant, the system further comprising the processing unit being configured to:
contact a call center; and
receive missing data provided by the call center to complete the transaction.
17. The system of claim 10 wherein the processing unit is further configured to procure at least one requested service within the requirements of a preexisting mutual service requirement of the group, and alterations in at least one reservation made by at least one further participant in the group.
18. The system of claim 10 further including the processing unit further configured to alter at least one procured service in response to at least one alteration in at least one procured service made by at least one additional participant in the group, the system further comprising the processing unit configured to use stored payment information regarding at least one other participant to complete the transaction.
19. A tangible machine readable medium storing instructions that, when executed by a computing device cause the computing device to perform a method, the method comprising:
receiving notification of an event, the event to include a group of participants, including at least one participant who acts as a group leader for the event;
notifying the group of participants of the event;
processing a request from the group leader for the procurement of at least one service related to the provision of a resource used for attending the event;
notifying the other participants of at least one service procured for the group leader for the resource used for attending the event by completing a transaction for the procurement of the at least one service for the at least one other participant to share the resource needed for attending the event;
offering to the other participants of the event to procure the at least one service procured for the group leader in order to share the resource needed for attending the event with the group leader;
processing at least one request from at least one other participant for the procurement of the at least one service procured for the group leader by completing a transaction for the procurement of the at least one service for the at least one other participant to share with the group leader the resource needed for attending the event;
detecting a circumstantial delay in completion of the transaction;
delaying provision to the at least one other participant of a final confirmation regarding the completion of the transaction;
notifying the at least one other participant regarding a projected duration of the delay, the projected duration constituting a time period between detection of the delay and a projected completion of the transaction;
maintaining, in a virtual waiting queue, the transaction as active, pending completion of the transaction;
determining a future time when the transaction can be completed;
waiting for arrival of the future time; and
completing the transaction after arrival of the future time.
20. The machine readable medium of claim 19 wherein the method further comprises notifying includes sending the at least one other participant an invitation for the event, for which at least one other participant may do one of accept and decline.
21. The machine readable medium of claim 20 wherein the method further comprises in response to a first participant declining the invitation, discontinuing notifications and offerings related to the event to the first participant, the method further comprising providing to the user an option regarding processing of the transaction, wherein the option includes allowing the user at a later time to be notified about a completion of the transaction.
22. The machine readable medium of claim 19 wherein the event comprises at least one attribute selected from a group comprising: date, time, duration, and location.
23. The machine readable medium of claim 19 wherein at least one service comprises at least one attribute selected from a group comprising: an airline ticket, a train ticket, a hotel reservation, a car rental, an airport shuttle and an admission ticket.
24. The machine readable medium of claim 19 wherein the group leader defines the group of participants.
25. The machine readable medium of claim 19 wherein the method further comprises processing at least one request for a second participant that is dissimilar from at least one request for a third participant, and contacting a call center; and receiving missing data provided by the call center to complete the transaction.
Description

This application is related to U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/347,769, which was filed on Jan. 9, 2002; titled “Automatic Services Exchange”, which is incorporated herein by reference. This application is also related to patent application Ser. No. 10/338,363 filed Jan. 7, 2003 titled “Automatic Services Exchange”, and which is also incorporated herein by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates generally to procurement of services, and more particularly to improving customer satisfaction in booking process.

COPYRIGHT NOTICE/PERMISSION

A portion of the disclosure of this patent document contains material which is subject to copyright protection. The copyright owner has no objection to the facsimile reproduction by anyone of the patent document or the patent disclosure as it appears in the Patent and Trademark Office patent file or records, but otherwise reserves all copyright rights whatsoever. The following notice applies to the software and data as described below and in the drawings hereto: Copyrightę 2001, Gazoo, Inc., All Rights Reserved.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The increasingly mobile, remote and distributed nature of today's workforce makes it difficult for an organization to provide adequate administrative support for their workers. As a result, the workers themselves must spend part of their working day identifying, procuring, managing, coordinating and accessing the services they need to perform their job. Additionally, even people who are not mobile or remote workers find that they have less time to spend in organizing the services they need for their business or personal life.

This problem is further exacerbated when many workers must attend off-site events requiring travel plans including airfare, sleeping accommodations and local transportation. The distributed nature of the workforce could result in numerous people staying in varying hotels, renting individual cars and/or transportation to and from airports and event locations. This can add up to the redundant cost of travel-related services.

Another problem is the inherent lack of knowledge between workers as to who is attending a given event, further hindering a chance for coordinated travel arrangements. Online systems such as Evite, Yahoo Calendar and Microsoft Outlook have brought together group notices of events and meetings. This has allowed workers to know who has been invited and whether they plan to attend a given event. However such systems do not alleviate the problem of redundancy in the booking of event-related services to attend such off-site events. Organizations have an interest in reducing redundant expenses such as individual rental cars and hotel rooms. However, they often lack the bandwidth to coordinate a sharing of such services.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In one embodiment a system and method are described to determine the cause of the issue in procuring the service is and, based on a set of rules, offer the user a path to complete the procurement successfully.

In one embodiment, a system and method are described to determine when a supplier is not available and queue requests until the supplier system is available again.

In one embodiment, a system and method are described to actively manage the status of each account so that the user's transactions do not fail because of mis-configured or expired account configuration status.

The present invention describes systems, clients, servers, methods, and computer-readable media of varying scope. In addition to the aspects and advantages of the present invention described in this summary, further aspects and advantages of the invention will become apparent by reference to the drawings and by reading the detailed description that follows.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIGS. 1A-C are diagrams illustrating a system-level overview of an embodiment of the invention;

FIGS. 2A-C are flowcharts of methods to be performed typically by computers in executing the embodiment of the invention illustrated in FIGS. 1A-C;

FIG. 3 is a flowchart of an optional method to be performed by a computer in executing the embodiment of the invention illustrated in FIGS. 1A-C;

FIG. 4A is a diagram of one embodiment of an operating environment suitable for practicing the present invention; and

FIG. 4B is a diagram of one embodiment of a computer system suitable for use in the operating environment of FIG. 4A.

FIG. 5 illustrates screen shot as it would be seen by a group member, in accordance with one embodiment.

FIG. 6 illustrates block diagram of an alternative embodiment.

FIG. 7 illustrates a more detailed block diagram of one embodiment.

FIG. 8 presents a flow diagram of a conventional example of a consolidated services system.

FIG. 9 presents a flow diagram of an exemplary system and a method according in accordance with one embodiment.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

In the following detailed description of embodiments of the invention, reference is made to the accompanying drawings in which like references indicate similar elements, and in which is shown by way of illustration specific embodiments in which the invention may be practiced. These embodiments are described in sufficient detail to enable those skilled in the art to practice the invention, and it is to be understood that other embodiments may be utilized and that logical, mechanical, electrical, functional, and other changes may be made without departing from the scope of the present invention. The following detailed description is, therefore, not to be taken in a limiting sense, and the scope of the present invention is defined only by the appended claims.

Automatic Service Exchange

A system level overview of the operation of one embodiment of an automatic services exchange system 100 is described by reference to FIGS. 1A-C. In FIG. 1A, the automatic services exchange system 100 is illustrated as having an automatic services exchange component 101 and an optional call center backup component 103. The automatic services exchange component 101 allows users such as a user A 105, user B 109, user C 113, and user D 117 to request services from the exchange. The service requests may be sent to the exchange component 101 through various communication media. For example, user A 105 sends its request A 107 to the exchange component 101 through an interactive voice response system (IVR), user B 109 sends its request B 111 to the exchange component 101 through e-mail (typically a structured e-mail), user C 113 sends its request C 115 via a Web browser, such as Internet Explorer or Netscape or a micro-browser on a WAP enabled cellular telephone, and user D 117 send its request D 119 through an instant messaging system (IM). These different communication media typically have different data formats, such as structured e-mail, or an Internet based markup language such as XML, or IVR voice recognition. Regardless of the communication media used to send the request to the exchange component 101, a response to a request may be sent back to the user through a different media. Thus, FIG. 1A illustrates that user A 105 receives its response through e-mail, user B 109 receives its response via instant messaging, and user D 117 receives its response via fax. In the case of user C 113, the same communication medium, Web, used to send the request is also used to send the response.

The services available through the exchange component 101 include travel services, entertainment service, personal services (e.g., haircutting), educational services, business administrative services and the like. Some services may be time critical, e.g., a dinner reservation at a particular time. The service request specifies other required criteria for the service, such as location (e.g., a certain geographic area), type, duration, quantity, price information (e.g., preferred price or price range and maximum price), etc. Additionally, a single service request may actually require services from multiple different service providers which are linked or associated. For example, if a user is planning a business trip, the request will often require services from airlines, hotels and car rental agencies and perhaps other services which are linked to or associated with the business trip.

The automatic services exchange component 101 automatically sends the service request to various service providers. In one embodiment, this transmission may be through several different electronic communication media such as structured e-mail, XML, IVR, etc. In the event that the exchange component 101 is unable to automatically procure the service requested by the user, the request is transferred to the backup call center component 103. For example, assume that request C 115 from user C 113 could not be automatically fulfilled by the exchange component 101. As illustrated in FIG. 1A, the request C 115 is sent to the backup call center 103 along with other information such as which service providers have already been contacted for the service. One of the human agents or operators at the backup call center 103 attempts to find a service provider for the request. Once the backup call center 103 determines that the request can or cannot be satisfied, it communicates the result to the corresponding user who made the request. In the example, the result is sent to user C 113 through e-mail.

FIGS. 1B and 1C show the operation of the automatic services exchange component 101 in more detail. In FIG. 1B, a requestor 121 sends a service request 123 to the automatic services exchange 101. A broker function 131 receives a service request and passes it onto various service providers, such as service provider 133 and service provider 135. The service request may also be sent to an aggregator that represents multiple service providers, such as aggregator 137 that handles requests for service provider 139 and service provider 141, instead of directly to the service providers. In one embodiment, the service request is sent using an automatic system, such as an IVR system, that asks for a positive or negative reply to the request (e.g., a voice over the telephone says “press 1 if you have a table for two at 6:30 p.m. at your restaurant on XYZ date, press 2 if you do not”). Each of the service providers 133, 135 and the aggregator 137 replies to the broker 131 indicating whether they are able to provide the requested service. The responses to broker 131 may be through different communication media such as the Internet (e.g., via an XML page), structured e-mail, or IVR.

Assuming there is at least one positive reply, the broker 131 sends a response 127 to the requestor 121 with the results indicating at least one response matched the request. Depending on parameters set by the requestor 121, if multiple positive replies are received by the broker 131, the broker may choose the best match based on the required or predetermined criteria or it may send responses for all the positive replies to the requestor 121 for selection. The requestor 121 may also authorize the broker 131 to contract for the service under certain circumstances without waiting for approval from the requestor 121. A match to request typically means that the response from the service provider is within the range of acceptable requesting parameters such as time of service, location of service, price of service, level (e.g., quality requested) of service, and other parameters specified by the request.

As illustrated in phantom in FIG. 1B, the broker 131 may also send the response 127 to others 125 specified by the requestor 121. For example, when multiple people are planning a dinner, one person, the requester 121, may be in charge of obtaining the reservation, but the other people involved should receive notification of the particulars.

Also shown in phantom in FIG. 1B, is the capability of sending a change notice 129 to the requestor 121 if a procured service changes before its performance date. This change may occur by a modified request which is issued by the requestor 121. Similarly, the change notice 129 may also be sent to others 125 specified by the requestor 121. The requester can approve the change if the change is satisfactory, or submit a new service request if the change is unsatisfactory, or if the service is now unavailable from the original provider (not shown). The exchange system of the invention, in one embodiment, can automatically respond to a modified request.

The broker 131 reviews, through an automatic machine implemented process, the service requests to determine if the service request is actually a request for multiple services, such as multiple services which are linked or associated such as those associated with an event (e.g., a business trip which requires airline tickets, rental car reservation and hotel reservation). The resulting operation is illustrated in FIG. 1C. The broker 131 breaks such a request into sub-service requests 143 and 145 and sends each to the appropriate service providers. Thus, in FIG. 1C, sub-service request A 143 is sent to service providers 147, 149, while sub-service request B 145 is sent to service provider 151 and aggregator 153, which aggregates the services from service providers 155 and 157. As before, each service provider/aggregator typically returns a message to the broker 131 specifying its ability to provide the service. Each sub-service response 159 may be sent separately to the requestor 121 or the broker 131 may wait until all service providers/aggregators have responded or until a match to each sub-service request has been found. As in FIG. 1C, change notices 161 also will be sent to the user 121 upon a change in a procured service. Additionally, the responses 159 and the change notices 161 may be sent to others 125 specified by the requestor 121.

The particular methods of the invention are now described in terms of computer software with reference to a series of flowcharts. The methods to be performed by a computer constitute computer programs made up of computer-executable instructions illustrated as blocks (acts). Describing the methods by reference to a flowchart enables one skilled in the art to develop such programs including such instructions to carry out the methods on suitably configured computers (e.g., the processor of the computer executing the instructions from computer-readable media). The computer-executable instructions may be written in a computer programming language or may be embodied in firmware logic. If written in a programming language conforming to a recognized standard, such instructions can be executed on a variety of hardware platforms and for interface to a variety of operating systems. In addition, the present invention is not described with reference to any particular programming language. It will be appreciated that a variety of programming languages may be used to implement the teachings of the invention as described herein. Furthermore, it is common in the art to speak of software, in one form or another (e.g., program, procedure, process, application, module, logic . . . ), as taking an action or causing a result. Such expressions are merely a shorthand way of saying that execution of the software by a computer causes the processor of the computer to perform an action or a produce a result.

FIGS. 2A and 2B illustrate the acts to be performed by a computer, or set of computers, acting as the automatic services exchange component 101 of FIG. 1A in processing service requests. FIG. 2C illustrates the acts to be performed by a computer acting in conjunction with the backup call center 103 in FIG. 1A. FIG. 3 illustrates the acts to be performed by the computer acting as the automatic services exchange component when the optional change notification is desired.

Referring first to FIG. 2A, a service request method 200 receives a service request method (block 201) and examines it to determine if there are multiple, related services requested (block 203). If so, the service request method 200 creates a request for each service (block 205). Once the multiple requests are created, or if there is only one request, the service requests are sent to the appropriate providers (including aggregators) for the services (block 207).

The service request method 200 processes the replies for each request separately as illustrated by request loop starting at block 209. It will be appreciated that multiple request loops may be running concurrently. The requestor may specify a time which is associated with a deadline for completion of a search for a match to a request. In one embodiment, the requestor specifies a predetermined required period of time (time out period or deadline) within which replies must be received or by which time the requestor should be contacted by the exchange to inform the requestor of the incomplete status of a request. In another embodiment, the time out period is determined by the method 200 based on time criteria specified in the request. The request loop waits at block 209 until an incoming reply is received or until the time out period expires. When the request loop is activated by an incoming reply (block 211), the reply is recorded at block 213. If all replies have not yet been received, the request loop returns to its wait state. If all replies have been received, the particular request loop ends (block 215) and the method 200 proceeds to block 217 to evaluate the replies. Alternatively, if the time out period expires before any or all replies are received, the method 200 also proceeds to block 217. The time out period can provide the exchange system with some time to attempt to “manually” (through the intervention of a human operator) procure the service with enough time before the service is actually required. If the user/requestor fails to specify a time out period, the exchange system may specify a default time out period which is at least several hours before the requested time of the service (e.g., a 4:30 p.m. time out for a dinner reservation at 7:30 p.m.) or at least one day before the requested date of the service. Further, this time out period also allows the requestor to be notified of a failure to procure a service before the time requested for the service so that the requestor can take appropriate actions.

At block 217, the method 200 determines if any positive replies were received. If not, the corresponding request is transferred to the backup call center (which includes human operators) for processing along with all replies (block 219) so the backup call center knows the current status of the request (e.g., who has replied to the request, who has not, etc.). The processing represented by block 219 is described in more detail in conjunction with FIG. 2C further below.

If multiple services were requested, the method 200 determines if at least one service provider has replied positively to each service request (block 221). Requests that cannot been procured are sent to the backup call center at block 219, while positive replies are processed at block 223 (e.g., by sending out confirmations to the requestor and the service providers to secure the providing of the service). Similarly, if only one service was requested and at least one reply is positive, the method 200 proceeds to block 223 to process the reply. The processing represented by block 223 is described next.

One embodiment of a process reply method 230 is illustrated in FIG. 2B. It will be appreciated that multiple instances of the method 230 may be executing simultaneously based on the number of service requests that were made. For each service requested (block 231), the process reply method 230 determines if multiple positive replies for a service were received (block 233). If so, but only one match has been requested (block 235), the method 230 filters the replies to find a single match that best satisfies the criteria specified by the requestor (or specified as defaults by the system of the exchange service) (block 237). If there was only one positive reply for the service, or once a single reply has been filtered out in block 237, the method 230 determines if the requestor has authorized the automatic services exchange system to automatically procure the service (block 239). If so, the method 230 contracts or otherwise reserves the service from the corresponding service provider (block 241) and sends a confirmation request confirmation to the requestor that the service has been procured (block 243). In these situations where the service provider requires a commitment (e.g., a down payment or a deposit) from the requestor, the automatic services exchange provides payment information (e.g., credit card name, number and expiration date) previously provided by the requestor to the automatic services exchange or requests that this information be provided by the requestor to either the exchange (so it can be forwarded to the service provider) or to the service provider directly. If, however, there is no authorization (block 239), the information in the reply is sent to the requestor at block 245 and the method 230 waits to receive approval from the requestor. If approval is received (block 249), the method 230 contracts for or otherwise reserves the approved service and sends a confirmation as previously described. However, if approval of the particular service is not received from the requestor, the service request is terminated.

If more than one match is wanted at block 235 (as specified by a predetermined preference sent by the requestor or as set as a default by a system of the exchange service), a response containing all positive replies is sent to the requestor for selection (block 247) and the method 230 waits to receive approval of one of the providers at block 249. As in the case of a single reply, the method 230 contracts for or otherwise reserves the service from the approved provider at block 241 and returns a confirmation message at block 243, or the request is terminated if no approval is received.

Turning now to FIG. 2C, one embodiment of an information transfer method 260 for a backup call center is illustrated. When the service request is sent to the providers through an automatic system, a reply may be invalid such as when a person, in response to questions from an IVR system, presses an incorrect digit on a telephone key pad or hangs up without replying or if the call is unanswered. For each unfulfilled related service request (block 261), the method 260 selects those service providers that gave invalid replies (block 263). Each of the selected service providers (block 265) will be called by a human agent (block 267) until one provider is able to provide the service (block 269) or until all have been called (block 271). If no service provider can fulfill the service request, the method 260 sends a failure message to the requester at block 273. If there are no further related service requests (block 251), the method 260 terminates.

The first positive reply at block 269 causes the method 260 to determine if the requester has authorized the automatic services exchange system to automatically procure the service (block 277). If so, the method 260 contracts or otherwise reserves the service from the corresponding service provider (block 279) and sends a confirmation request confirmation to the requestor that the service has been procured (block 281). If, however, there is no authorization at block 277, the information in the reply is sent to the requestor (block 283) and the method 260 waits to receive approval from the requestor. If approval is received (block 285), the method 260 contracts for or otherwise reserves the approved service and sends a confirmation as previously described. However, if approval of the particular service is not received from the requestor, a failure message is sent to the requester at block 272.

As described previously, the automatic services exchange system optionally can send change notices to the requester to alert him/her of changes in a procured service or receive a modified request from the requestor even after the services have been procured. One embodiment of a service change method 300 that communicates changes is illustrated in FIG. 3. When the method 300 receives notification of a change in a procured service (block 301), it notifies the requester and asks if the requester approves the change or wishes to submit a new service request (block 303). If the change is approved (block 305), a message is sent to the service provider to contract for the changed service (block 307) and the change is confirmed to the requester (block 309). If the change is not approved but a new service request is submitted (block 311), the new request is resubmitted into the automatic services exchange system at block 313.

The particular methods performed by computers acting as the automatic services exchange and backup call center components for one embodiment of the invention have been described with reference to flowcharts in FIGS. 2A-C and 3, including all the acts from 201 until 223, from 231 until 251, from 261 until 285, and 301 until 313, respectively. It will be appreciated that more or fewer processes may be incorporated into the methods illustrated in FIGS. 2A-C and 3 without departing from the scope of the invention and that no particular order is implied by the arrangement of blocks shown and described herein and that alternative orders of the operations are within the scope of the invention.

The following description of FIGS. 4A-B is intended to provide an overview of computer hardware and other operating components suitable for performing the methods of the invention described above, but is not intended to limit the applicable environments. One of skill in the art will immediately appreciate that the invention can be practiced with other computer system configurations, including hand-held devices (e.g., PDAs—personal digital assistants such as a Palm Pilot; or cell phones, etc.), multiprocessor systems, microprocessor-based or programmable consumer electronics, network PCs, minicomputers, mainframe computers, and the like. The invention can also be practiced in distributed computing environments where tasks are performed by remote processing devices that are linked through a communications network having a physical or wireless infrastructure, or a combination of both.

FIG. 4A shows several computer systems that are coupled together through a network 3, such as the Internet. The term “Internet” as used herein refers to a network of networks which uses certain protocols, such as the TCP/IP protocol, and possibly other protocols such as the hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP) for hypertext markup language (HTML) documents that make up the World Wide Web (web). The physical connections of the Internet and the protocols and communication procedures of the Internet are well known to those of skill in the art. Access to the Internet 3 is typically provided by Internet service providers (ISP), such as the ISPs 5 and 7, through either physical or wireless interfaces. Users on client systems, such as client computer systems 21, 25, 35, and 37 obtain access to the Internet through the Internet service providers, such as ISPs 5 and 7. Access to the Internet allows users of the client computer systems to exchange information, receive and send e-mails, and view documents, such as documents which have been prepared in the HTML format. These documents are often provided by web servers, such as web server 9 which is considered to be “on” the Internet. Often these web servers are provided by the ISPs, such as ISP 5, although a computer system can be set up and connected to the Internet without that system being also an ISP as is well known in the art.

The web server 9 is typically at least one computer system which operates as a server computer system and is configured to operate with the protocols of the World Wide Web and is coupled to the Internet. Optionally, the web server 9 can be part of an ISP which provides access to the Internet for client systems. The web server 9 is shown coupled to the server computer system 11 which itself is coupled to web content 10, which can be considered a form of a media database. It will be appreciated that while two computer systems 9 and 11 are shown in FIG. 4A, the web server system 9 and the server computer system 11 can be one computer system having different software components providing the web server functionality and the server functionality provided by the server computer system 11 which will be described further below.

Client computer systems 21, 25, 35, and 37 can each, with the appropriate web browsing software, view HTML pages provided by the web server 9. The ISP 5 provides Internet connectivity to the client computer system 21 through the modem interface 23 which can be considered part of the client computer system 21. The client computer system can be a personal computer system, a network computer, a Web TV system, a handheld wireless device, or other such computer system. Similarly, the ISP 7 provides Internet connectivity for client systems 25, 35, and 37, although as shown in FIG. 4A, the connections are not the same for these three computer systems. Client computer system 25 is coupled through a modem interface 27 while client computer systems 35 and 37 are part of a LAN. While FIG. 4A shows the interfaces 23 and 27 as generically as a “modem,” it will be appreciated that each of these interfaces can be an analog modem, ISDN modem, cable modem, satellite transmission interface (e.g., “Direct PC”), radio frequency (RF), cellular, or other interfaces for coupling a computer system to other computer systems. Client computer systems 35 and 37 are coupled to a LAN 33 through network interfaces 39 and 41, which can be Ethernet network or other network interfaces. The LAN 33 is also coupled to a gateway computer system 31 which can provide firewall and other Internet related services for the local area network. This gateway computer system 31 is coupled to the ISP 7 to provide Internet connectivity to the client computer systems 35 and 37. The gateway computer system 31 can be a conventional server computer system. Also, the web server system 9 can be a conventional server computer system.

Alternatively, as well-known, a server computer system 43 can be directly coupled to the LAN 33 through a network interface 45 to provide files 47 and other services to the clients 35, 37, without the need to connect to the Internet through the gateway system 31.

FIG. 4B shows one example of a conventional computer system that can be used as a client computer system or a server computer system or as a web server system. It will also be appreciated that such a computer system can be used to perform many of the functions of an Internet service provider, such as ISP 5. The computer system 51 interfaces to external systems through the modem or network interface 53. It will be appreciated that the modem or network interface 53 can be considered to be part of the computer system 51. This interface 53 can be an analog modem, ISDN modem, cable modem, token ring interface, satellite transmission interface (e.g., “Direct PC”), radio frequency (RF), cellular, or other interfaces for coupling a computer system to other computer systems. The computer system 51 includes a processing unit 55, which can be a conventional microprocessor such as an Intel Pentium microprocessor or Motorola Power PC microprocessor. Memory 59 is coupled to the processor 55 by a bus 57. Memory 59 can be dynamic random access memory (DRAM) and can also include static RAM (SRAM). The bus 57 couples the processor 55 to the memory 59 and also to non-volatile storage 65 and to display controller 61 and to the input/output (I/O) controller 67. The display controller 61 controls in the conventional manner a display on a display device 63 which can be a cathode ray tube (CRT) or liquid crystal display. The input/output devices 69 can include a keyboard, disk drives, printers, a scanner, and other input and output devices, including a mouse or other pointing device. The display controller 61 and the I/O controller 67 can be implemented with conventional well known technology. A digital image input device 61 can be a digital camera which is coupled to an I/O controller 67 in order to allow images from the digital camera to be input into the computer system 51. The non-volatile storage 65 is often a magnetic hard disk, an optical disk, or another form of storage for large amounts of data. Some of this data is often written, by a direct memory access process, into memory 59 during execution of software in the computer system 51. One of skill in the art will immediately recognize that the term “computer-readable medium” includes any type of storage device that is accessible by the processor 55 and also encompasses a carrier wave that encodes a data signal.

It will be appreciated that the computer system 51 is one example of many possible computer systems which have different architectures. For example, personal computers based on an Intel microprocessor often have multiple buses, one of which can be an input/output (I/O) bus for the peripherals and one that directly connects the processor 55 and the memory 59 (often referred to as a memory bus). The buses are connected together through bridge components that perform any necessary translation due to differing bus protocols.

Network computers are another type of computer system that can be used with the present invention. Network computers do not usually include a hard disk or other mass storage, and the executable programs are loaded from a network connection into the memory 59 for execution by the processor 55. A Web TV system, which is known in the art, is also considered to be a computer system according to the present invention, but it may lack some of the features shown in FIG. 4B, such as certain input or output devices. A typical computer system will usually include at least a processor, memory, and a bus coupling the memory to the processor. Further, mobile devices, such as PDAs, browsing web phones etc. and their respective supporting infrastructure may also be used as clients etc.

It will also be appreciated that the computer system 51 is controlled by operating system software which includes a file management system, such as a disk operating system, which is part of the operating system software. One example of an operating system software with its associated file management system software is the family of operating systems known as Windows« from Microsoft Corporation of Redmond, Wash., and their associated file management systems. The file management system is typically stored in the non-volatile storage 65 and causes the processor 55 to execute the various acts required by the operating system to input and output data and to store data in memory, including storing files on the non-volatile storage 65.

Coordination For Group Procurement of Services

One embodiment of the present invention permits group members to add additional reservations onto an existing reservation of a group leader, supervisor or any other member of the group in such a manner as to synchronize travel plans and coordinate locations, etc., both in terms of travel time, sharing rides, staying at the same hotel, tee times, and other services one may desire when attending an event. But rather than book all group members at once, individual group members may make plans separately, to accommodate instances in which group members are, for example, traveling from different locations, or are arriving at different times, etc. For example, a sales person may be coming from a different customer site in another city, while the marketing person and the technical person may be coming from the home office.

FIG. 5 shows a screen as it would be seen by such a group member. The data as displayed on the screen may be shared with the group members via an Internet media, or other alternative media. Section 500 is the header bar of the browser window, and section 501 is the application window for a specific set of services—in this case, travel and accommodations for a business meeting at a customer site. Heading section 502 for the event shows that members of the company Talaris are visiting Forrester Research in Waltham, Mass. Group members can see the travel itinerary of the group leader respectively the first person to book travel in section 503. As each member books travel and other services related to the meeting, the system automatically notifies, via the Internet or other media, the other members of the group and asks if they want to book identical travel services or similar travel services (e.g., start in a different location and ultimately end up at a destination together at a specific time). The system automatically would also coordinate sharing of resources such as a rental car or hotel rooms. Further, the system would enforce corporate policies related to the services being procured. For example, the system might require employees to share a rental car, a limo, a shuttle bus etc. if two or more employees are traveling on a similar trip.

Thus in the example embodiment shown in FIG. 5, group members have the options shown in section 510 to choose one of four travel options. It is clear that in other example embodiments, other, similar options, additional options, or fewer options may be offered. Section 511 is an option to book an identical itinerary, which would be suitable for a person starting the trip from the same location at the same time. This option allows group members to travel together. Section 512 allows group members to book separate, identical air and hotel reservations, but has them share a single car rental; section 513 allows members to meet at the airport upon arrival (in this example, at the Boston airport) so a group member flying in from, for example, New York, could meet with members flying in from San Francisco, to share the car into Walton; and section 514 allows for only booking rooms at the same hotel, so group members may come and go separately but stay at the same hotel, allowing them to meet and travel together to the company site conveniently.

The system illustrated in FIG. 5 is just one embodiment of the novel art of this disclosure for automated coordination of services procurement for a group of individuals involved in a common goal or event. In this and other embodiments, one of the individuals (the leader) would define the attributes of the event and specify the other individuals to be involved in the event (the “group”). All of the individuals would be automatically notified, via the Internet or other media, by the system that they are invited to participate in the goal or event, and all individuals would be able to accept or decline membership in the group event or goal, in some cases in accordance with company policies for such participation, expense rules, privacy rules etc. Likewise, all individuals who accept group membership would be able to procure a combination of services required to execute the event. All individuals who accepted the invitation to join the group would be notified of the booking of services by the other members of the group, and each individual in the group would be able to make a services procurement request for the services procured by any other individual or individual(s) in the group. The system is able to coordinate sharing of the services based on its understanding of the mutual requirements of the group, and is also able to adjust the services procured by members of the group to better meet the overall group's objectives. The system is likewise able to adjust the services procured by the members to optimize the use of the services by the group as a whole, or to intelligently cancel services based on changes in requirements input by one or more members of the group. In some cases, corporate policy may allow some participants to exceed their usual settings in context of a group event. In other cases, it may notify additionally their supervisor, procurement group, or human resources, and in yet other cases, it may require a confirmation by e-mail from a supervisor or similar. The type of services that may be procured are not limited to services related to travel, but rather may also include other services related to attending an event, or other activities to participate in while visiting a location.

Yet in some cases, if a member needs to come in late, for example due to a previous meeting, he may not share in some aspects, such as the share car ride for example etc. In other circumstances, if a member needs special facilities, not available at the hotel/car/flight chosen for the group, the member may break out of the group arrangements. This may be on a case by case basis, with approval and or notification of the group leader, his supervisor etc., or may be pre-defined in the member's profile in some cases.

FIG. 6 illustrates a block diagram of an integration of the embodiment for providing coordination of group procurement of services integrated in the system of FIG. 1 b, as discussed above. The integration includes the addition of a group information block 600 that allows the original requester 121 to export his travel plans via function 601 into block 600. The requester can assign group members into a group data base 610, so that when the designated group members log in as other users 125, they can see what travel options are available, pull them down via function 602, and then participate in making travel plans, as described above in relation to FIG. 5. Furthermore, as mentioned above, group member may receive a particular invitation, and in some cases, that may require a supervisor's approval.

In yet other cases, a user may be able to forward their service request in an automatic fashion. For example, a user could initiate a group by inviting others to join for a meeting at a specific date, time, and location. Once they have done this, they have formed a group. Once one member of the group has booked their travel for this particular meeting, they would be prompted to see if they are willing to share their itinerary with the other members of the group. If they give permission for the other members to see the itinerary, all other members of the group would be automatically notified by the system. When notified, the other members of the group would be given options to book similar or identical services. When other group members select an option, a service request such as (123) in FIG. 6 is automatically generated and sent to the services exchange.

FIG. 7 is a further, more detailed sample flowchart of how a group travel could be established, in accordance with one embodiment. In process 701 the user creates an event. Then in process 702, he can invite others to join the group, either by entering their names, e-mail addresses or other user identification. They may also in some cases be entered from address books, organizers etc. In process 703, invitees of the group may accept or decline participation in the event, on a one by one basis, or as a group. In process 705, Group Member A books his services. Process 705 symbolizes the same for the other members of the group. In process 706, Group Member A services are booked, offering booking options, such as time of day of flight, available airlines, hotels etc.

In process 710, Group Member B decides (or may be forced) whether to book shared service, or not. In the case of shared service, process 711 checks for availability of shared space, i.e. number of guests in a hotel room, available seats on same flight, available space in Limo etc. In case of availability, in process 712, Group Member B's shared service is reserved. In process 713, both members (or as many as are in the group) are notified of a successful shared trip. In the case of no availability, an identical booking is pursued in process 721, but not a shared one.

In the case of non-shared services of process 710, process 720 determines whether identical services are required. If yes, an identical booking is pursued in process 721. If not identical, similar or as specified services are booked in process 722.

Following both processes 721 and 722, process 723 deals with the booking failure of Group Member B, due to lack of inventory matching the requirements. In process 730, a recovery is attempted by checking for alternative services for all group members. If they are not available, process 731 notifies all group members of separate bookings. If an alternative service is available for all group members, in process 730 all members are booked into those alternative services in process 732. Then the group members are notified of the success in process 733.

Improving Customer Satisfaction in Booking Process

In many software applications, much of the complexity of the business logic and connections between systems is hidden from the end user. This transparency causes problems for the end user because he has no way to interact with the process and help resolve the issues. There may be any number of unknown causes of failures during the transaction process. The system often does not know how to handle many specific error conditions resulting from the interaction with a third-party system, whether that third party system is a global distribution system or a supplier inventory system.

FIG. 8 presents a flow diagram of a conventional example of a consolidated services system 800. In this case, a user is attempting to transact, through Web-based interfaces, a multi-vendor booking, such as, for example, booking of a travel package (airline, hotel, car), where V1 could be the airline, V2 could be the hotel, and V3 could be the car rental agency. At process step 801, the user is prompted for data for the first vendor V1 811. When the user enters data for vendor 1, the data is exchanged with vendor 1 via connection 821. Some of this data is then pushed to process step 802 via connection 824 for use in the next transaction. Process step 802 prompts the user for data for vendor 2 812, and data is exchanged with vendor 2 via connection 822. Some of those results are also used via connection 825 for the last vendor, vendor 3 813. Again, process step 803 prompts the user for data for vendor 3 813, and data is exchanged with vendor 3 813 via connection 823. Once all the transactions have been closed, process step 804 displays confirmation of the transactions and the payment method.

If a fault occurs, for example, that vendor 2 due to a problem 832 cannot respond to the information input via connection 822, then typically the user would be prompted to default through path 826 to process step 805. Process step 805 may ask the user to visit the Web site again, or may offer to save the information input thus far to the Web site and continue at a later time. This is the typical situation, but it is the user's duty to go back and continue pursuing it.

What is clearly needed is a system and method to intelligently determine the cause of the issue in procuring the service is and, based on a set of rules, offer the user a path to complete the procurement successfully.

What is further needed is a system and method intelligent enough to know when a supplier is not available and queue requests until the supplier system is available again.

Further, such a system 800 may sometimes not have each end user account fully configured with all of the information needed to successfully confirm reservations in process step 804. For instance, the end user account may be missing a username or password required to access a supplier system. What is further clearly needed is a system that actively manages the status of each account so that the user's transactions does not fail because of mis-configured or expired account configuration status.

Typically, when services are being procured, a number of issues may arise, including limited availability, changing prices from initial quotes, and possibly errors caused by the inventory system of the supplier. Also, suppliers are not always available to respond to requests in real time.

FIG. 9 presents a flow diagram of an exemplary system and a method according in accordance with one embodiment. The problem 832 would result in a special communication 901 back to process step 802. Communication 901 would allow the process flow to continue through a special connection 902 and finish transaction process steps 802 and 803. But rather than giving the user a final confirmation at process step 804, the user is rerouted via connection 903 to a special finalization process step 904, where the user is offered an option, for example, to assume the transaction will be completed and be notified about the final receipt at a later time. In this option, in some cases, the system will continue to attempt to complete process step 802 with the information already input by the user and notify the user when the process is completed successfully. Step 904 may tell the user the number of hours to wait before the problem 832 is corrected. Alternatively, the user may be prompted at a later time; for example, with a message that has an embedded link, to continue or finalize his transaction in process step 804.

Depending on the type of problem, the transaction may also be escalated at process step 904 to a contact center 910, where a live agent 912 using screen 911 may, for example, have access to the internal database of vendor 2, or may even call or email (or otherwise notify) vendor 2 to complete the transaction and then manually enter the missing data into the transaction process steps 801 through 804 through interaction in process step 904, thus allowing the transaction to be completed via path 905 and be completely transparent to the user, except for a small additional delay.

In yet other cases, for example, when the problem lies not so much in a fault as in a process rule regarding booking times, then a time component 909 may keep the case active in process step 904 until the booking time arrives. For example, many airlines restrict flight bookings to a certain time window. Rather than keeping the user waiting, or asking the user to check again, or telling him that the flight cannot be booked, which is the typical standard operation, time component 909 may “keep the request in mind” and try to book it as soon as the booking window at the vendor opens. Other examples of limited-time booking windows are overnight shipping, which typically can only be booked less than 24 hours ahead of the shipping time; or certain event registrations that may have a specific narrow booking window, where, for example, online booking may be only opened one month ahead of the date of an event and closed a week ahead. By proceeding through the process according to the novel art of this disclosure, the user may “prebook” and be in a virtual waiting queue outside the box office window.

When the booking steps are complete, the system, as part of the confirmation process step 904, requires information about payment for the bookings. Using an intelligent user profile, the system could store information about the employee's accounts with each supplier. If the user does not have a supplier account properly set up, the system could, for example, ask the user to create one or enter his credentials before submitting a reservation request with that supplier. The system would then present to a user a list of steps required to successfully configure and validate his account before using the system.

The processes described above can be stored in a memory of a computer system as a set of instructions to be executed. In addition, the instructions to perform the processes described above could alternatively be stored on other forms of machine-readable media, including magnetic and optical disks. For example, the processes described could be stored on machine-readable media, such as magnetic disks or optical disks, which are accessible via a disk drive (or computer-readable medium drive). Further, the instructions can be downloaded into a computing device over a data network in a form of compiled and linked version.

Alternatively, the logic to perform the processes as discussed above could be implemented in additional computer and/or machine readable media, such as discrete hardware components as large-scale integrated circuits (LSI's), application-specific integrated circuits (ASIC's), firmware, such as electrically erasable programmable read-only memory (EEPROM's); and electrical, optical, acoustical and other forms of propagated signals (e.g., carrier waves, infrared signals, digital signals, etc.); etc.

Whereas many alterations and modifications of the present invention will no doubt become apparent to a person of ordinary skill in the art after having read the foregoing description, it is to be understood that any particular embodiment shown and described by way of illustration is in no way intended to be considered limiting. Therefore, references to details of various embodiments are not intended to limit the scope of the claims which in them selves recite only those features regarded as essential to the invention.

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US5253166 *29 Mar 199112 Oct 1993Disc CorporationPre-ticket travel reservation record keeping system
US55662916 Jun 199515 Oct 1996Diacom Technologies, Inc.Method and apparatus for implementing user feedback
US5832451 *23 Jan 19963 Nov 1998Electronic Data Systems CorporationAutomated travel service management information system
US5893091 *11 Apr 19976 Apr 1999Immediata CorporationMulticasting with key words
US5948040 *6 Feb 19977 Sep 1999Delorme Publishing Co.Travel reservation information and planning system
US5987420 *11 Feb 199816 Nov 1999Omron CorporationReservation media issuing system using fuzzy logic
US6016478 *13 Aug 199618 Jan 2000Starfish Software, Inc.Scheduling system with methods for peer-to-peer scheduling of remote users
US6023679 *19 Dec 19968 Feb 2000Amadeus Global Travel Distribution LlcPre- and post-ticketed travel reservation information management system
US6038542 *28 Apr 199814 Mar 2000Micron Electronics, Inc.System for notifying an individual of a previously scheduled event
US6041305 *24 Apr 199721 Mar 2000Daishin Frame Inc.Method and apparatus of controlling reservation for goods and the like
US6047327 *16 Feb 19964 Apr 2000Intel CorporationSystem for distributing electronic information to a targeted group of users
US6085164 *4 Mar 19974 Jul 2000Sabre Inc.Apparatus and method of allocating flight inventory resources based on the current market value
US6144942 *28 Apr 19987 Nov 2000Micron Electronics, Inc.Method for notifying an individual of a previously scheduled event
US6295521 *2 Jul 199825 Sep 2001Ita Software, Inc.Travel planning system
US6360205 *5 Mar 199919 Mar 2002Trip.Com, Inc.Obtaining and utilizing commercial information
US6442526 *22 Mar 199927 Aug 2002The Sabre Group, Inc.System for corporate travel planning and management
US6457045 *14 Jan 200024 Sep 2002Zaplet, Inc.System and method for group choice making
US6496568 *12 Apr 199917 Dec 2002Avaya Technology Corp.Method and apparatus for providing automated notification to a customer of a real-time notification system
US6529136 *28 Feb 20014 Mar 2003International Business Machines CorporationGroup notification system and method for implementing and indicating the proximity of individuals or groups to other individuals or groups
US6615046 *29 Dec 19992 Sep 2003International Business Machines CorporationAutomatic dispatch of mobile services
US6631363 *10 Oct 20007 Oct 2003I2 Technologies Us, Inc.Rules-based notification system
US6640230 *27 Sep 200028 Oct 2003International Business Machines CorporationCalendar-driven application technique for preparing responses to incoming events
US6658093 *7 Dec 19992 Dec 2003Microstrategy, IncorporatedSystem and method for real-time, personalized, dynamic, interactive voice services for travel availability information
US6691153 *14 Jan 200010 Feb 2004Zaplet, Inc.Method and system for process interaction among a group
US6748364 *1 Nov 19998 Jun 2004Palmtop Productions, Inc.Assigning and managing patron reservations for distributed services using wireless personal communication devices
US6788946 *12 Apr 20017 Sep 2004Qualcomm IncSystems and methods for delivering information within a group communications system
US6826543 *25 Aug 200030 Nov 2004Expedia, Inc.System and method for matching an offer with a quote
US6836537 *7 Dec 199928 Dec 2004Microstrategy IncorporatedSystem and method for real-time, personalized, dynamic, interactive voice services for information related to existing travel schedule
US6847988 *13 Sep 199925 Jan 2005Hitachi, Ltd.Service providing system and method which divides a request into plural service requests and provides an integrated service based on service utilization history information in response to the request
US6993503 *28 Apr 200031 Jan 2006Priceline.Com IncorporatedSystem and method for allocating a conditional purchase offer for a travel related services reservation to one of a plurality of entities in a buyer driven electronic commerce system
US7069309 *19 Oct 200027 Jun 2006Cisco Technology, Inc.Apparatus and methods for requesting an event notification over a network
US7092892 *1 Mar 200015 Aug 2006Site59, Inc.System and method for grouping and selling products or services
US7136821 *18 Apr 200014 Nov 2006Neat Group CorporationMethod and apparatus for the composition and sale of travel-oriented packages
US7139718 *25 Mar 199821 Nov 2006Canon Kabushiki KaishaNotification apparatus and method therefor
US7171369 *8 Nov 200030 Jan 2007Delta Air Lines, Inc.Method and system for providing dynamic and real-time air travel information
US7212983 *15 May 20011 May 2007William Gibbens RedmannMethod and apparatus for providing visitors with a personalized itinerary and managed access to attractions
US7251633 *11 Dec 200131 Jul 2007Sony CorporationMethod or system for executing deferred transactions
US7263664 *1 Nov 200028 Aug 2007Ita Software, Inc.Graphical user interface for travel planning system
US7302399 *10 Nov 199927 Nov 2007Electronic Data Systems CorporationMethod and system for processing travel reservation data
US7315882 *14 Oct 20031 Jan 2008At&T Delaware Intellectual Property, Inc.Method, system, and storage medium for providing automated execution of pre-defined events
US7333941 *31 Aug 200119 Feb 2008Priceline.Com IncorporatedSystem and method for optimizing revenue and/or bookings from collected demand data in a buyer driven commerce system
US7337125 *25 Jan 200126 Feb 2008International Business Machines CorporationSystem and method for enhancing sales for service providers utilizing an opportunistic approach based on an unexpected change in schedule of services
US7376586 *17 Dec 199920 May 2008Microsoft CorporationMethod and apparatus for electronic commerce using a telephone interface
US7376662 *26 Jul 200220 May 2008Orbitz LlcTravel update messaging system and method
US743383217 Nov 20007 Oct 2008Amazon.Com, Inc.Methods and systems for distributing information within a dynamically defined community
US7523385 *7 Nov 200121 Apr 2009Starcite, Inc.System and method for enterprise event marketing and management automation
US7533032 *1 Aug 200012 May 2009International Business Machines CorporationMethod and system for prediction of materialization of a group reservation
US7599847 *2 Aug 20026 Oct 2009Airport AmericaAutomated internet based interactive travel planning and management system
US20010014867 *19 Jun 199816 Aug 2001Douglas Walter ConmyElectronic calendar with group scheduling
US20010049637 *7 May 20016 Dec 2001Kevin TsoSystem and method for providing an event-based community
US20020026336 *26 Jan 200128 Feb 2002Michael EizenburgMethod and system for creating one or more customized travel web pages over a computer network
US20020065688 *28 Aug 200130 May 2002David CharltonElectronic reservation system
US20020069093 *4 Dec 20006 Jun 2002Stanfield Richard C.Electronic reservation referral system and method
US20020104018 *31 Jan 20011 Aug 2002International Business Machines CorporationSupplier portal for global procurement e-business applications
US200201077286 Feb 20018 Aug 2002Catalina Marketing International, Inc.Targeted communications based on promotional response
US20020111845 *13 Sep 200115 Aug 2002Chong Leighton K.Online meeting planning system with 3-node configuration
US20020151321 *12 Apr 200117 Oct 2002Diane WinchellSystems and methods for delivering information within a group communications system
US20020156659 *3 Mar 200024 Oct 2002Walker Jay S.Method and apparatus for the sale of airline-specified flight tickets
US20020173996 *12 Apr 200221 Nov 2002Steve MurchMethod and system for asynchronously booking travel inventory
US20020174003 *15 May 200121 Nov 2002Redmann William GibbensMethod and apparatus for providing visitors with a personalized itinerary and managed access to attractions
US20020178034 *5 Nov 199928 Nov 2002Christopher W. GardnerAirline travel technologies
US20020178069 *4 Dec 199828 Nov 2002Walter G HanchunkDynamic quality control conditional purchase offer (cpo) management system
US20020184059 *25 Mar 19995 Dec 2002Joseph Robert OffuttMethods and apparatus for determining non-obvious savings in the purchase of goods and services
US20020198747 *26 Jun 200126 Dec 2002Boyer Stanley GeneEvent driven airport
US20030036930 *17 Aug 200120 Feb 2003Expedia, Inc.Method and system for creating travel packages
US2003004613830 Aug 20016 Mar 2003International Business Machines CorporationSystem and method for assessing demographic data accuracy
US20030195811 *7 Jun 200116 Oct 2003Hayes Marc F.Customer messaging service
US20030225600 *24 Sep 20024 Dec 2003Slivka Daria M.Methods, systems, and articles of manufacture for re-accommodating passengers following a travel disruption
US20050033615 *23 Feb 200410 Feb 2005Nguyen Justin T.Event planning system
US20050125348 *12 Jan 20059 Jun 2005Fulton John W.Communications network interface for user friendly interactive access to online services
US2006019096130 Sep 200524 Aug 2006Sean HandelMethod and system for capturing and calculating complex consumer ratings of goods and services
US20060265256 *31 Jul 200623 Nov 2006Ita Software, Inc., A Delaware CorporationRobustness and notifications in travel planning system
US20070299701 *7 Sep 200727 Dec 2007Sabre Inc.Event driven airport
Non-Patent Citations
Reference
1Transaction History of U.S. Appl. No. 11/240,739, filed Sep. 30, 2005, entitled "Method and System for Capturing and Calculating Complex Consumer Ratings of Goods and Services."
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US875129524 Aug 201210 Jun 2014America Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc.System and method for providing international coupon-less discounts
US884969926 Sep 201130 Sep 2014American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc.Systems and methods for targeting ad impressions
US88684447 May 201321 Oct 2014American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc.System and method for rewarding in channel accomplishments
US919598814 Dec 201224 Nov 2015American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc.Systems and methods for an analysis cycle to determine interest merchants
US93616274 Jan 20137 Jun 2016American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc.Systems and methods determining a merchant persona
US941210223 Aug 20129 Aug 2016American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc.System and method for prepaid rewards
US943077318 Jul 200730 Aug 2016American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc.Loyalty incentive program using transaction cards
US94896804 Feb 20118 Nov 2016American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc.Systems and methods for providing location based coupon-less offers to registered card members
US951448325 Jun 20136 Dec 2016American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc.Marketing campaign application for multiple electronic distribution channels
US951448425 Jun 20136 Dec 2016American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc.Marketing campaign application for multiple electronic distribution channels
US95426904 Apr 201210 Jan 2017American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc.System and method for providing international coupon-less discounts
US955850516 Aug 201031 Jan 2017American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc.System and method for prepaid rewards
US956978922 May 201214 Feb 2017American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc.System and method for administering marketing programs
US957629410 May 201221 Feb 2017American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc.System and method for providing coupon-less discounts based on a user broadcasted message
US961336116 Aug 20104 Apr 2017American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc.System and method for E-mail based rewards
US96333627 May 201325 Apr 2017American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc.System and method for creating reservations
US966587411 Mar 201330 May 2017American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc.Systems and methods for tailoring marketing
US96658799 May 201230 May 2017American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc.Loyalty incentive program using transaction cards
US966588021 May 201230 May 2017American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc.Loyalty incentive program using transaction cards
US967252611 Mar 20136 Jun 2017American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc.Systems and methods for tailoring marketing
US96849098 May 201220 Jun 2017American Express Travel Related Services Company Inc.Systems and methods for providing location based coupon-less offers to registered card members
US969752911 Mar 20134 Jul 2017American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc.Systems and methods for tailoring marketing
US97108227 May 201318 Jul 2017American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc.System and method for creating spend verified reviews
US971569620 Aug 201425 Jul 2017American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc.Systems and methods for targeting ad impressions
US971569720 Aug 201425 Jul 2017American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc.Systems and methods for targeting ad impressions
US971570025 Jun 201325 Jul 2017American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc.Marketing campaign application for multiple electronic distribution channels
US97542777 May 20135 Sep 2017American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc.System and method for purchasing in a digital channel
US97542787 May 20135 Sep 2017American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc.System and method for purchasing in a digital channel
US97674672 Mar 201219 Sep 2017American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc.System and method for providing coupon-less discounts based on a user broadcasted message
US20130117057 *18 Oct 20129 May 2013Peter Van MoltkeSystems, Methods and Devices for Generating Alternate Itineraries
Classifications
U.S. Classification705/26.1
International ClassificationG06Q30/00
Cooperative ClassificationG06Q10/06, G06Q10/02
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
6 Oct 2004ASAssignment
Owner name: TALARIS CORPORATION, CALIFORNIA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:ORTTUNG, MARK;CHEN, JEROME;MAH, ANSON;AND OTHERS;SIGNING DATES FROM 20040930 TO 20041006;REEL/FRAME:015885/0454
13 Feb 2006ASAssignment
Owner name: REARDEN COMMERCE INC., CALIFORNIA
Free format text: CHANGE OF NAME;ASSIGNORS:ORTTUNG, MARK;CHEN, JEROME;MAH, ANSON;AND OTHERS;REEL/FRAME:017563/0276
Effective date: 20050125
21 Sep 2009ASAssignment
Owner name: LABMORGAN INVESTMENT CORPORATION, NEW YORK
Free format text: SECURITY AGREEMENT;ASSIGNOR:REARDEN COMMERCE, INC.;REEL/FRAME:023254/0243
Effective date: 20090917
28 Sep 2010ASAssignment
Owner name: GOLD HILL CAPITAL 2008, LP, CALIFORNIA
Free format text: SECURITY AGREEMENT;ASSIGNOR:REARDEN COMMERCE, INC.;REEL/FRAME:025051/0095
Effective date: 20100909
16 Apr 2012ASAssignment
Owner name: REARDEN COMMERCE, INC., CALIFORNIA
Free format text: RELEASE BY SECURED PARTY;ASSIGNOR:LABMORGAN INVESTMENT CORPORATION;REEL/FRAME:028053/0769
Effective date: 20120413
Owner name: REARDEN COMMERCE, INC., CALIFORNIA
Free format text: RELEASE BY SECURED PARTY;ASSIGNOR:GOLD HILL CAPITAL 2008, LP;REEL/FRAME:028053/0556
Effective date: 20120412
7 Nov 2012ASAssignment
Owner name: LABMORGAN INVESTMENT CORPORATION, NEW YORK
Free format text: SECURITY AGREEMENT;ASSIGNOR:REARDEN COMMERCE, INC.;REEL/FRAME:029259/0491
Effective date: 20120907
20 Sep 2013ASAssignment
Owner name: REARDEN COMMERCE, INC., CALIFORNIA
Free format text: RELEASE BY SECURED PARTY;ASSIGNOR:LABMORGAN INVESTMENT CORPORATION;REEL/FRAME:031249/0616
Effective date: 20130919
21 May 2015ASAssignment
Owner name: DEEM, INC., CALIFORNIA
Free format text: CHANGE OF NAME;ASSIGNOR:REARDEN COMMERCE, INC.;REEL/FRAME:035772/0888
Effective date: 20130919
9 Feb 2017FPAYFee payment
Year of fee payment: 4
9 Feb 2017SULPSurcharge for late payment